Editor: Thor’s Stone
Kou was glaring at a data terminal alone inside Astraea’s combat command center.
About two weeks have passed since they went ahead with the technology provision request through Okeanos.
「So, all the A-Class Development Engineers bought the entire list huh.」
『Yes. I suppose they were afraid to get left behind by the flow. After all, the more materials you have available for bricolage, the better.』
Astraea was making her report.
She had revealed that all technologies offered by Okeanos this round were bought up.
Some opted to pay in installments, but it wasn’t like Kou and the rest needed the money right away.
「Hyoue-san’s TAKABA also entered into a partnership with Misumaru Heavy Industries and exchanged relevant technologies. I’m really sorry, Astraea. Things still ended up being unfair between the A-Class Development Engineers.」
『Kou’s relationship with them is also important. The items were sold to each Development Engineer at the same prices. This can be considered false equality in a sense. That is because competition between their companies is inevitable, and that will eventually lead to inequality. But the opportunities provided to them are the same. There are no problems.』
「It’s great that you think so.」
Kou was worried because of the fact that he freely provided some companies with technology free of charge while ignoring the others. It was also done as a sort of thanks for accepting Kou’s requests as well as for their past guidance.
However, he didn’t offer the same courtesy to the companies he wasn’t able to visit. Kou was worried about that. Fortunately, the ones he didn’t offer anything to were the two that possessed the greatest power and influence among the transferee-led companies. One of them was also the first one to purchase all the technology on the list.
『The amount that will be taken by Okeanos as commission from this time’s sales will be close to 90%. Please do understand.』
「It’s fine. It’s all technology we got from him in the first place.」
This time around, the technology provision offered to the A-Class Development Engineers wasn’t sold in an auction format, so the prices were pretty much fixed. The list for the B-Class Engineers was auctioned as usual though, in lieu of competitiveness. By the time the companies that are just starting out are already able to purchase them, the technology would have already been widespread.
Once this is achieved, Kou will finally be able to focus on his own matters. The technology wasn’t developed by Kou in the first place. It only made sense that the main provider, Okeanos, would collect the lion’s share of the profits and manage them appropriately.
「I just thought of this, but stuff like materials manufactured in space, A-Spinels, and metallic hydrogen can only be purchased exclusively from Okeanos, right? The construction materials used for refining too. Is this some sort of tax system substitute?」
『It’s a little different, but you can think of it like that.』
It seemed that the amount of currency supplied to the market was strictly managed. That meant that Okeanos does many of the functions of a central government on its own.
「I’m scared to think what kind of mess this will cause in the future though.」
『Analysis results show that an invasion by the Stones might be imminent. I suggest quickly expanding our strength.』
「How’d you come to that conclusion?」
『I analyzed their reactions after a part of Asia’s data was released, as well as the mechanics of the seal that imprisoned her. Results show that there was a visible increase in the defensive measures applied to the other areas where part of Asia’s data is sealed.』
「The mechanics of the seal?」
『Yes. There is a need to suppress all data fragments of Asia at the same time. That is because if we were to blow up all the other Asias at this point, their power would regather to the Asia staying with us eventually through the dispersed nanomachines, given enough time.』
「Whoah! That’s a really great opportunity for us!」
『Undoubtedly. That’s why, in order not to give Asia this opportunity and let her recover any more of her strength, the Stones have no choice but to staunchly defend the other Fortress Areas with her fragments.』
「Wait a sec. Why would we need to hurry with increasing our strength if that’s the case?」
『Time is definitely on our side, so the Stones will have no other recourse than to physically and forcibly place humanity under their rule.』
「I see. They won’t be able to capture Asia again no matter how hard they try. And just defending the remaining Fortress Areas sealing a part of her up is ultimately futile. So they have to ensure control over humanity in another way.」
『Exactly. Ultimately, the sphere of influence of the Stones is just too large, so they have to pick and choose their targets so they can concentrate their forces. As long as we are unaware of what sort of strategy the enemy might employ, I thought it would be best to be prepared.』
「Understood. Thanks for reminding me, Astraea.」
Kou checked the replies to the proposals he sent to the three A-Class Development Engineers again.
Yunlan sent him improved plans and variations for cavalry tanks and additional armor.
For the proposal regarding additional armor being added to cavalry tanks, a common standard using the armor combination system was also sent to him.
There were two variations. One was equipped with a heavy-caliber Gatling gun, and the other was equipped with a chain. The latter was a support variation that would specialize in supply replenishment on the front lines.
Kou was immediately taken by the support variation and approved it in a heartbeat. He then quickly placed an order for some units.
Kelly had also sent him a proposal for the successor unit of the Pheasant.
It was called the Tachycineta and was a beautiful-looking jet-black machine. He also approved it immediately.
Finally, Kurt sent him a plan to complete the Huckebein and some improvement proposals.
Their manufacturing facilities have already started being remodeled, and they were gearing up for production.
「Building up our forces huh. Come to think of it, Arges did tell me he’d managed to complete ‘that’ already.」
Kou stood up and started walking toward the ship’s interior.
「I’ve been waiting for you, Kou.」
Arges was standing alongside Unit 5.
He held a huge sword-shaped weapon in one hand. It was housed within an equally huge scabbard. It seemed he was already prepared to present his work.
「Thank you, Arges!」
Kou boarded Unit 5 and received the Silhouette-use sword from Arges. It was meant to be hung on the waist joint.
It was his long-awaited Silhouette-use katana and scabbard.
Arges had been busy creating and testing Silhouette-use katana-type blades for Kou’s use.
What Kou desired was merely a sufficiently flexible and simple Silhouette weapon.
However, Arges showed an odd fixation on making the weapon in question.
「I’ve researched data from the past. From a practical standpoint, I should have referenced the mass-produced modern Japanese swords that had both sharpness and maintainability. But I think only sticking to a certain standard of craftsmanship will allow me to forge a true katana.」
Arges had done simulations using combinations of various alloys. After making a prototype, he tested it out immediately. And if he found it lacking, he’ll immediately move on to working on the next prototype. His figure was exactly that of a genuine swordsmith. Yes. He appeared just like the smith of the gods in ancient myth.
Kou had also visited Arges from time to time while he was in the middle of forging and was consulted by the latter often during his visits.
「How did the finished article turn out?」
「Being able to put a metallic hydrogen furnace to good use was a major factor in my success. I could have just stuck to the powder metallurgy method using an ultra-high pressure furnace, but I decided to use it as a base instead and proceeded with trial and error. Eventually, I was able to create a good katana. The tantou you told me about served as a great reference too, Kou.」
「Did my description of the tantou really help you out? I think you’d know lots of more advanced techniques though, Arges.」
「I used a tungsten-based material as the outer skin, and the material used for the core is a highly malleable tantalum-based alloy produced using the vacuum metallurgy method. I then employed explosive pressure bonding. It’s a process roughly equivalent to the kobuse method used by katana swordsmiths. This allowed me to combine two types of different materials seamlessly.」
「It really does look like a genuine Japanese sword.」
Kou stared in wonder at the new weapon.
「Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to give its hamon a “nioi guchi” line. From there, I made a blade that was both ultra-hard and very flexible by repeatedly performing processes equivalent to sunobe and hizukuri. After adding an outer layer of nano-coating, the katana is complete.」
「What about polishing?」
「Polishing is essential for bringing out the true potential of the sword. I put in a lot of effort to polish the sword for several hours. I can definitely guarantee its sharpness. That sword has no gimmicks apart from being able to circulate Whis.」
「Thank you very much for all your hard work, Arges. Can I try it out?」
「Sure. I’ve already prepared practice planks for you. They’ve been reinforced by Whis. Go ahead and give the sword a try.」
Kou moved Unit 5 in front of the practice plank. Unit 5 then dropped its waist and pulled the katana out from its sheath.
Unit 5 completely reproduced the movement data inputted into it and perfectly performed the maneuver.
「The scabbard really makes a lot of difference. There’s no sense of discomfort at all……」
Kou was overcome by an emotion that no one apart from him could probably understand.
The swordsmanship school Kou studied especially valued the scabbard. There were many advantages to having a scabbard when performing iai techniques. And these advantages will fully display themselves during battle.
Next, Kou had Unit 5 perform a serious iai strike. It pulled the sword out, unleashed a lightning-fast slash, and placed the blade back inside the scabbard in one smooth and continuous series of motions.
The blade emitted light and cut the practice plank in two. –Physically, and not metaphorically.
「Hey, Arges! It actually glowed!」
「How about it, Kou? Amazing, right?」
Arges proudly provided Kou with an explanation for the earlier phenomenon.
「The tantalum used as the sword’s core is used as a capacitor, and the outer layer made of tungsten functions as an electrode. By swinging the sword at high speed, a high-temperature electric arc that doesn’t involve any gas gets discharged via sword pressure alone. It doesn’t have any detrimental effects on the lifespan of the blade, of course. It was an incidental result, but it’s pretty flashy and practical eh?」
Kou couldn’t find any other words to express his feelings.
He had already completely fallen in love with the katana. Perhaps “bewitched” was a more apt term.
「It goes without saying that the scabbard is also special. Oodachi, tachi, uchigatana, and wakizashi. I prepared several swords and scabbards according to these different types of Japanese blades. So don’t hold back and swing that one around as much as you want.」
「Don’t mind if I do.」
Kou kept cutting down the practice planks. Once the planks had run out, Arges quickly set up replacements.
It was the Silhouette-use katana that he’d long been wishing for. He couldn’t hide his excitement for the gimmick Arges worked hard to make.
「Kou, it’s time to eat.」
In the end, Ponko brought Kou back just like a mother who came to pick up a naughty child who kept playing even if it was already dusk.